Proteins, also known as proteins, are vital for the health of every person. Their daily intake of food or drink is key to maintaining good physical shape and tone.
Proteins can also be obtained through dietary supplements with whey protein or casein, to be consumed in the form of a shake or bar. However, the question often arises as to whether these protein supplements have a better impact and help achieve specific fitness goals when taken in the morning or in the evening.
In this article, you will learn more about protein, what is the appropriate daily dose, and whether protein intake in the evening or at breakfast is more beneficial.
What is protein?
Proteins are found everywhere in the body, from bones and skin to hair and muscles. They consist of over 20 basic building blocks called amino acids. Nine of them are indispensable for the human body, i.e. they cannot be produced by it, so they must be obtained through food, especially protein-rich food.
According to whether they contain essential amino acids, proteins are divided into complete and incomplete.
The former contain all nine essential amino acids and are mainly obtained from products of animal origin. Such, for example, are eggs, quinoa, fish, chicken, etc.
The second type are incomplete (incomplete) proteins. They lack one or more of the nine essential amino acids. This includes a variety of plant food sources such as legumes, nuts and seeds.
Protein can also be obtained in powder form, in which case it can be whey or casein. Although both types are obtained from the processing of dairy products, the former is absorbed more quickly, while the latter is slowly absorbed and provides energy throughout the day.
Functions of protein in the body
Protein intake is important for the body, as proteins make up the enzymes that support various chemical reactions and the hemoglobin that carries oxygen in the blood. In addition, they:
- are part of cell walls;
- are contained in muscles, nails, bones, hair and skin;
- help produce infection-fighting antibodies;
- strengthen the immune system;
- transport and store nutrients;
- help to grow and maintain muscles;
- are a source of energy.
Daily protein intake
The daily intake of protein depends a lot on the characteristics of your organism and what goals you want to achieve – increasing muscle mass, burning fat or others.
Whether you take protein before bed, at lunch or breakfast, the recommended daily allowance is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This is considered the minimum amount needed to prevent protein deficiency diseases.
More information about the recommended protein intake can be found in our article “How much protein should we take per day?“.
Benefits of drinking protein in the evening
Many believe that eating protein or drinking such a shake before bed is not good for health. However, depending on your needs and goals, your protein intake through food or supplements can vary from day to day. Sometimes it is advisable to get them in the later hours of the day as well.
For example, drinking protein in the evening is suitable for older people and those who wish to build muscle and improve the results of their training. This is because proteins taken before bed are absorbed and digested efficiently, increasing their amount in the muscles.
A study shows that consuming 40 grams of protein before bed is recommended to achieve maximum muscle growth overnight.
In the following lines, you will learn more about the other benefits of taking protein in the evening.
Building and preserving muscle
Various chemical reactions are constantly taking place in the body. Muscle protein synthesis and breakdown are two of them. While the former promotes muscle growth, the latter has the opposite effect.
Exercising increases the rate of breakdown, which creates a protein imbalance. This leads to faster depletion of the amino acid supply in the body. In turn, their lack causes muscle weakness. To avoid this process, taking protein shakes before bed, combined with adequate rest after training, can help.
Muscle recovery after training
Consuming protein shakes before bed could help regenerate muscles after exercise. This will improve the body’s endurance during longer workouts, along with performance during exercise.
Improving sleep quality
Consuming protein in the form of food, supplements or shakes could provide better quality and restful sleep. Protein helps push a specific amino acid (tryptophan) into the body. It, in turn, releases melatonin, the hormone responsible for sleep, as well as serotonin, the hormone of happiness. This increases the chance that in the morning you will feel refreshed and rested instead of tired and stressed.
To increase tryptophan levels, you can prepare a protein shake with soy, yogurt or fresh milk. All three are rich in this amino acid and help ensure better sleep.
Last but not least, healthy eating habits combined with exercise and drinking protein in the evening can improve energy metabolism during sleep in people with a sedentary lifestyle.
Additional benefits of taking protein before bed
Other benefits of evening protein consumption include:
- increasing the feeling of satiety the next morning;
- improving the state of skeletal muscles after resistance-type exercises;
- supplying the body with energy;
- increasing strength during training and improving muscle adaptation to specific exercises;
If you decide to take protein before bed, consider taking casein protein. It is digested slowly and thus supplies the body with proteins throughout the night. If you want to get it through food, choose products like cottage cheese or Greek yogurt.
Why might taking protein before bed not be advisable?
Despite the many benefits of taking protein before bed that we have discussed, it may not be advisable in the evening in certain cases.
Eating a protein-rich meal or shake before bed can cause digestive discomfort in some people. Protein takes longer to digest and for those with sensitive stomachs, this process can lead to indigestion, bloating or discomfort at night.
Increased calorie intake
Eating protein before bed adds extra calories to your daily intake. If you haven’t factored these extra calories into your overall diet plan, it can contribute to weight gain, especially if you exceed your daily requirements.
Although many studies show that protein before bed does not negatively affect sleep, individual responses vary. Some people may have trouble sleeping or discomfort if they consume protein too close to bedtime, affecting their overall sleep quality.
Individual responses to bedtime protein vary based on metabolism, activity level, age, and overall health. Therefore, it is very important to pay attention to your reaction to protein intake before bed. Watch how your body reacts, whether you are more energetic or the opposite, you lack energy the next day, and whether taking it in the evening helps you achieve your desired goals.
It is also recommended that you consult a health professional or nutritionist to give you personalized advice based on your individual health and dietary needs.
Protein is extremely important for the body, as it has a number of benefits for the body. Among them are growth of muscle mass, regulation of metabolism, strengthening of the immune system, etc. According to your goals and needs, you can take it in the morning, lunch or evening, before or after training.
However, if you have decided to consume protein before bed, keep in mind that the benefits of this are many: muscle recovery after training, improving the condition of skeletal muscles, etc. Protein intake is recommended for older people and for those who want to strengthen their immune system.
You will find more useful and interesting information related to protein products and healthy eating in the other articles on our blog.